Every day, Hannan bends conscientiously over her loom, weaving colorful rugs and tote bags from the pile of colored cloth scraps at her side. As she finishes a piece, she trudges four blocks through the dusty streets of the urban squatter settlement where she lives to sell it to one of HANDS’ local partner organizations in her community. This group, the Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE), markets her crafts locally and internationally.

Just a few years ago, Hannan was unemployed and rarely left the house. She felt unfulfilled and unproductive. But since her training at APE, Hannan has learned the skill of weaving and is now able to provide her family with additional income. This has empowered Hannan, providing her more of a voice in her family and community.


ape looming
Women in Egypt who, like Hannan, have learned the skill of weaving and are able to provide money to their families.


In a recent interview with HANDS’ staff, she told us, “We learn how to produce good work here at APE, and I have taught weaving to two of my daughters, one of whom works here now, too.” Through her hard work for APE, not only is Hannan able to provide for her family, but she is also passing on to her daughters the ability to support themselves as entrepreneurs. In a country in which only 23% of women are ever able to find employment, Hannan is a testament to how a strong Egyptian woman can transform her family’s future with just a little job-skills training.


women of ape
Women who gained employment through APE, in front of APE headquarters

Hannan belongs to the Zabbaleen community, a group of informal trash collectors in Cairo. These trash collecting jobs are dangerous and low-paid, and living in these communities among the garbage can be hazardous for women’s health. In response to these challenges, APE, with the support of HANDS, has established a job-skills training and income-generating program for the women of the Zabbaleen community. Using materials donated by local textile and paper factories in Egypt, the women at APE create woven, quilted, and recycled paper handicrafts to sell around the world, through organizations like HANDS. The revenue generated by these craft sales is then used to train more women at APE.


Hannan is one of several hundred women from the Zabbaleen community whose lives have been transformed through this job-skills training program.  You can help HANDS impact even more women in this under-served Cairo group! Please join us at any of our scheduled handicraft sales-or consider hosting one in your town soon. Following a very successful three-day sale in New York City in May, another one is scheduled for July 12 and 13 in Chautauqua, NY.

Shoppers at a recent APE craft sale – Chautauqua, NY.
Together, we can partner with the talented female entrepreneurs of Cairo’s “Garbage City” to help them achieve their goals!